As is becoming commonplace, a number of important business related issues were decided on the ballot in 2004. Behind the strong leadership of Roundtable member companies a major victory was achieved in March with the defeat of Proposition 56 (Blank Check Initiative) – an SEIU/CTA sponsored measure proposing to lower the legislative vote to raise taxes from two-thirds to 55 percent. This was followed in November by the passage of Roundtable supported Proposition 64 which will prevent the filing of numerous frivolous lawsuits while preserving consumer protection. Also in November, the Roundtable played a significant role in helping defeat Proposition 72 which would have resulted in multi-billion-dollar additional healthcare costs to California businesses and workers without addressing the escalating costs.
In 2003, the Roundtable initiated a comprehensive review of the state’s business competitiveness. The study, the California Competitiveness Project, integrates existing economic research with the viewpoints of actual decision makers to determine the true trajectory of California job creation and retention and developed a front-line CEO perspective on the most critical employment issues facing California businesses. The Roundtable is currently developing a set of policy and legislative recommendations from the research that will help improve the overall health of California’s business climate and performance.
During the 2002 legislative session, the Roundtable co-sponsored and helped pass Senate Bill 1453 (Alpert) which will help establish a statewide student data system which will assign a unique student identifier to each child in the state and track individual test results year-to-year.
In 2002, the Roundtable helped lead the way for the overwhelming passage of Proposition 47, the Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2002, which provides billions of dollars for the construction and modernization of public elementary, secondary, and higher education facilities in California.
In 2002, the Roundtable led the effort to help pass Proposition 42 which requires the state’s gasoline sales tax revenues be used for specified state and local transportation purposes and is a major step in providing funding for future transportation projects.
In 1999, the Roundtable sponsored and helped enact legislation, Assembly Bill 1473, Chapter 606, Statutes of 1999, which established the California Infrastructure Planning Act. The Act requires the Governor, beginning in the 2002-03 budget year, to annually submit to the Legislature a statewide five-year infrastructure plan and a proposal for its funding. The plan is intended to provide the Legislature with a more detailed picture of the state’s long-term capital funding needs than had previously been available.
In 1998 the Roundtable released a report entitled Building a Legacy for the Next Generation. In that report the Roundtable called for the passage of a constitutional amendment to create a pay-as-you-go program for infrastructure investment in the state. Less than two years later the Governor created the Commission on Building for the 21st Century and once again the Roundtable pushed successfully for the inclusion of a financing proposal that would create a dedicated and ongoing revenue stream for the state’s growing infrastructure needs. During the past decade, the Roundtable has continued to raise the profile of the debate over infrastructure funding and exercised leadership in identifying viable, long-term solutions.
The Roundtable and its partner education coalition, California Business for Education Excellence (CBEE), led lobbying efforts that produced legislation to increase accountability in public education and ensure that the state’s academic standards, as well as assessment and accountability measures, are implemented by the State Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction and local school districts.
In 2000, the Roundtable supported and voters approved Proposition 39, which lowered the threshold needed to approve local school and community college bonds from two-thirds to 55 percent, provided districts adhere to strict new taxpayer accountability rules. Since the passage of Roundtable-led Proposition 39, billions of dollars in local school construction bonds have been approved under the 55 percent vote requirement.
The California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, which was capitalized at $475 million in the 1999-2000 budget with the active support of the Roundtable, is providing low-cost financing to public agencies for a wide variety of infrastructure and public improvements.
Two key components of the Governor’s public education accountability package were enacted with support from the Roundtable: a bill that created the Academic Performance Index and a bill establishing an exit exam for high school students.